Newhaven take off at Gatwick to maintain Southern Combination lead
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Recent signing Luke Donaldson gave the visitors the perfect start, picking up the ball on the halfway line, before driving forward and unleashing a brilliant shot from long-range that crashed in off the post.
It was a real contender for Newhaven’s goal of the season.
As has been the case in recent weeks, though, Newhaven struggled to impose their authority on the game in the early stages and Crawley Down deservedly levelled in the 19th minute.
Max Vardy clipped an Anvils attacker in the area, and Oli Leslie finished calmly from the penalty spot.
The goal seemed to knock Newhaven’s confidence somewhat and, for the next ten minutes, it was Crawley Down who looked the team more likely to go in front, albeit without ever really managing to test Buss.
It was a tactical change that ultimately saw Newhaven regain control of the contest.
With 36 minutes on the clock, Vardy’s cross from the right rebounded off the bar and landed at the feet of Callum Edwards, whose driven cross-shot was headed home by the diving form of Rob Malila.
This was a player who had only moments earlier been moved from right back to centre midfield in the aforementioned reshuffle.
It was the hosts who created the first clear opportunity of the second half, only to shoot wastefully wide.
But neither team were looking particularly like scoring as the game moved into its final 20 minutes.
This all changed when, with 15 minutes of normal time remaining, the Crawley Down defence presented the ball to Alfie Rogers deep inside their territory.
His perfectly weighted through-ball found Lee Robinson and, as has so often been the case, he did the rest.
With four minutes left, the Dockers put something of a flattering gloss on the scoreline when Malila bundled his way into the area before the ball broke to Robinson.
His first effort was well saved but when the ball fortuitously bounced back to him, there was no way he was ever going to miss.
Newhaven’s lead was cut to three points in midweek when Hassocks won their sixth straight game, beating Little Common 2-1.
The Dockers and Hassocks have both played 27 games.
Tomorrow, Newhaven travel to sixth-placed Haywards Heath for what promises to be a mouth-watering clash between two sides with promotion ambitions.
Elsewhere, Crowborough kept up their challenge for honours with a 1-0 home win over Bexhill. Stephen Smith was their first-half scorer. The Crows, in fourth, host third-placed Steyning tomorrow.
Peacehaven drew 1-1 with Lingfield, Ross Barclay their scorer. They’re at home to Hassocks tomorrow.
Ellison Wright was on target for AFC Uckfield in a 3-1 defeat at Little Common. They go to Shoreham tomorrow. Saltdean, who lost 7-0 at Eastbourne United, host Pagham next